There are weeks when it feels like the world is a little too heavy and the news a little too sad. Last week was like that. The one year anniversary of Guy’s death and reminders that it’s been 10 months since the loss of Maggie (10 years old) and 7 months since Fr. Tim died along with the news of 5 additional deaths – 3 unexpected, 1 expected, 1 suicide – these made my heart hurt in a big way.
Luckily, I had already planned a retreat which offered me focused time to lift up the repose of all these souls and pray for those left behind who are grieving each of these losses.
How I wish I could take their pain away.
Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like enough to pray and yet, my faith tells me it is a great starting point.
Prayer – it’s such a powerful tool and being able to spend time with the Lord – disconnected from the pull of a million things that each day brings – praying for those souls and their loved ones, those who are hurting, those who are sick, those who gave me specific intentions and those I love and just want to lift up was a gift. A gift to myself, to make that connection with Christ and, I hope, a gift to those I prayed for.
This morning I got up to see the sunrise but my phone said it was ‘mostly cloudy’ so I thought there wouldn’t be much to enjoy. I decided to go down to the lake anyway just to enjoy the quiet of an early morning.
To my surprise, there was color in the sky. It was like a little hole was opened in the clouds and I was amazed at how pretty it was.
Then, just like that, the colors exploded and became more brilliant and the oranges and golds turned to pinks and purples.
It was a spectacular display of color and beauty. I believe it was a gift from God saying – I hear your prayers and I’ve got them. (all those I prayed for by name)
A little bit later the clouds, the wind, and the gray settled in and took over the day.
When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Corrie Ten Boom
Jesus has been crucified and buried.
His followers are bewildered and afraid.
Looking back over the past month I have struggled with my own bewilderment and darkness as I’ve attempted to come to grips with the death of the 16-year-old soccer teammate of my son, Ben.
It began on March 8th.
That morning I received a text from my other son, Patrick, “something’s happened at Jesuit”
Me, “what do you mean? is the school on lockdown? Are there alarms going off? Are there emergency vehicles? Why do you think something has happened?” (It had only been three weeks since the school shootings had happened in Florida – I was feeling a little nervous.)
Son, “I’m not sure but they announced a freshman and sophomore meeting and changed the class schedule for the day.”
A moment later, “a sophomore died. It was a car crash. Guy Delaney, he played JV soccer. Ben probably knows him.”
And, with that news, the day and the ones that followed went dark.
My heart was shattered for Guy, his family, his teammates, friends and, the staff at Jesuit who now had to help the students and each other navigate a second student death this school year.
My heart was also broken for Ben who was devastated and confused and had no idea how to handle the amount of grief he felt. I was overwhelmed, and surprised, by my own sorrow and the anguish I felt for Guy’s family.
Darkness settled in and I struggled through the ensuing days. I tried to choose joy when I woke in the morning and I tried to be thankful for the many blessings each day brings. I tried.
But the darkness and grief were powerful.
I didn’t question God or why it happened. I know free will dictated the choice made by the driver who caused the crash. And, I believe strongly that, even as Jesus welcomed Guy into His kingdom, he also cried for the loss felt so strongly by so many.
My head knew these things but I couldn’t seem to convince my heart that everything was going to be okay.
As funerals often do, it began the process of closure for those outside his immediate family. Guy’s parents invited the soccer players to honor him by wearing their jerseys, processing in and placing a white rose on his casket. The service was filled to capacity and the tributes remembering Guy helped everyone laugh through the tears.
And, a sliver of light broke through.
Two weeks after his passing, and playing their first soccer game since the funeral, the JV soccer team was praying before things got underway. It was a cloudy sky but as the team huddled together a ray of sunshine broke through and shone on the players. It was an incredibly powerful moment.
The grace of God and our faith tells us this was Guy.
The sliver of light became a bright sunbeam.
The hope amid the darkness.
As Ben and I continued to talk about Guy, and the hardness of losing someone, the days slowly became brighter. One morning, Ben shared with me that Guy had come to him in a dream during the night. In the dream, Guy told him he was okay, Ben was able to tell him goodbye and they hugged. Ben felt the hug and he felt the love. “It was so real”, he said.
Guy is in the arms of Jesus. And, in a few hours, we will commemorate Jesus’ victory over death.
Bad things happen but, God is good. Today, he has wrapped his loving arms around Guy’s family and all those who love him and continue to struggle with their grief.
And, long ago, on that Holy Saturday when his followers were baffled and afraid God knew the bigger plan would triumph.
The light is coming. Hope is on the horizon. Jesus will rise. His followers and those of us who believe understand that even amidst all the confusion, grief, and darkness God’s love will prevail.
Thanks be to God.
Guy’s own profound words, written in a memory book and shared by his father, Neil, at the funeral:
“Work hard, be patient, say your prayers and the rest will follow.”